Pompom, dance teams, cheerleading. Why in the post Title IX world, on the sports-centric North Shore, would girls choose to be on the sidelines?
Because a halftime performance doesn’t mean a half-hearted athlete. These girls can high kick and kick some serious butt.
High School dance teams, like the Maine South Hawkettes, who placed 3rd in the Varsity High Kick Category at the 2010 UDA National Dance Team Championships in Orlando last month, take their sport seriously. The Hawkettes practice for 2 ½ hours after school, often 5 days a week, 11 months out of the year.
Hawkettes coach Jackie Graney stresses the physical nature of the rigorous practices, which require both strength and extreme flexibility. “We sit in the splits for at least 2 minutes each practice. And that means left, right and center splits,” says Graney.
For those of us who can pull a muscle trying on skinny jeans, we don’t take a mention of the splits casually. (Moms, if rubber band quadriceps aren’t inspiration enough, check out our feature about the many health benefits of exercise.)
The girls’ dedication to dance and fitness often extends well past high school. And like other teens, they use their passion to help them expand their college choices. Currently, North Shore girls dance or cheer at a number of schools including The University of Iowa, Indiana University and The University of Missouri. Former Hawkette, Heather Lang is a Rockette.
But it’s not just Maine South that competes on a national level. A number of other North Shore teams competed at the UDA Nationals including Lake Forest High School, which took 3rd place in the Large Varsity Pom Division and 4th place in the Large Varsity Jazz Division, and Glenbrook South High School’s Titan Poms, who placed 10th in the Kick Competition.
According to Titan Poms Director Julie Manning, her team’s commitment extends beyond performing at halftimes of football and basketball games. Titan Poms requires enthusiasm, athleticism, and exceptional dance technique. More important, she recognizes the pure passion of her girls.
And isn’t that the true heart of Title IX legislation, giving everyone a chance to do what they love.
Check out the article about the importance of helping your kids find purpose and passion.